Behind an offensive onslaught of five homeruns, the MU softball team swept the Manhattan Jaspers on Sunday by scores of 8-0, and 10-7.
With the victory, the Hawks improve to 9-1 in conference play, and maintain their spot perched at the top of the MAAC.
“It’s extremely important,” junior infielder Rachel Shotzbarger, who added seven RBIs on the day, said of the win. “Manhattan is a good competitor and are always willing to fight.”
To add to her seven RBIs, Shotzbarger contributed three hits on the day, including a grand slam in the second inning of game two. In addition, senior catcher Jill Freese also recorded three hits in the Hawks’ sweep, adding a grand slam of her own and two runs scored.
After edging a run in the second inning of game one, the Hawks went off for five runs in the third. Sophomore outfielder Katie Baron led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior outfielder Emma Hill. Baron scored from second when sophomore outfielder Chloe Howerth, who had a team-high four hits on the day, singled to the pitcher who errantly threw the ball into right field. A walk and a fielder’s choice would load the bases for Freese, who sent a grand slam to left to put the Hawks ahead 6-0.
“When we’re aggressive and attack every strike in the zone, good things happen,” MU head coach Shannon Salsburg said.
MU would add their final two runs of the game in the fourth. Shotzbarger came up with the bases loaded after a walk, an error and a Howerth single and knocked a two-run single to left.
Sophomore pitcher Amanda Riley was once again electric in game one, shutting out the Jaspers while taking a no hitter into the fifth inning. She added a walk and three strikeouts in the contest which only lasted five innings.
Game two began with senior Sydney Underhill cashing in a scoreless first, and when MU came to bat they immediately took a lead on a Hill inside-the-park homerun. The Hawks would post six more runs in the second, a majority coming from Shotzbarger, who came up with the bases loaded yet again, and this time lifted one over the fence for a grand slam.
“In the first attempt with that pitcher, I knew I just missed the ball,” Shotzbarger said. “So I was really ready to hit the next pitch.”
Junior first baseman Justene Reyes would come to bat next and blast a solo homerun to the opposite field, putting the Hawks up by a score of 7-0 after two. However, the Hawks weren’t finished yet.
MU would plate three more runs in the third when freshman infielder Nicole Wieczorek led off the inning with a single, and sophomore catcher Brooke Redmond walked and Hill singled to put runners on first and second with two out. This brought Shotzbarger to the plate who recorded her seventh RBI on the day on a single to left. Reyes followed with an RBI single of her own, giving the Hawks a 10-0 advantage.
“That’s been us all year,” Salsbury said. “It was nice to see us adjust from pitcher to pitcher.”
The Jaspers wouldn’t roll over, though. Manhattan answered with four runs off of Underhill in the fourth, all of them unearned. A double, an error and a single loaded the bases for the Jaspers. After retiring the next two batters, Underhill surrendered an RBI single to Manhattan pinch-hitter Dominique Palagruto and a three RBI double to Emily Cutler to make the score 10-4.
Underhill would finish the day with the win, giving up five runs [none earned] on seven hits and four strikeouts. Riley would come in to finish the last 2.1 innings for the Hawks, giving up two runs [one earned] on three hits and five strikeouts for the final score of 10-7.
The Hawks will return to action on Saturday, Apr. 23 when they take on Marist for a doubleheader at home. Game one is set to begin at 1 p.m.
PHOTO COURTESY of Taylor Jackson